African Summit Praises Rwanda’s Success in Malaria Control and Eradication Efforts

The 8th Pan-African Malaria Conference opened in Kigali, drawing over 2,000 global health experts to discuss malaria control efforts. Rwanda was recognized for its outstanding achievements in the fight against malaria. The event, held from April 21-27, 2024, was organized by the Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Society, in collaboration with Rwanda’s Ministry of Health and Biomedical Center (RBC), under the theme “Grassroots Mobilization to End Malaria: Invest, Innovate & Integrate.”

The conference offers a platform for collaboration and exchange on community-driven efforts, research, challenges, and progress in malaria control across Africa. Rwanda’s progress was highlighted in the WHO’s World Malaria Report 2023, placing the country among the top five African nations on track to achieve the Global Technical Strategy (GTS) target for 2025.

Professor Rose Leke, Co-Chair of MIM Society, praised Rwanda’s achievements in the fight against malaria: “Rwanda has done so much in the fight against malaria and is ready to teach us how to progress in other high-burden countries.” Rwanda’s strategies, including community health worker interventions and increased access to preventives, have reduced malaria incidents and deaths significantly.

The Yaounde declaration (March 2024) on accelerating malaria mortality reduction committed that “no one shall die of malaria”, however the WHO Africa region reports show an alarming stalling of progress on the continent which accounts for 95% of malaria deaths globally.

Rwanda on the other hand has made a significant efforts in reducing malaria deaths by 92% especially through the contribution of community health workers (CHWs) interventions (diagnosis and treatment) at the village level.

Rwanda has witnessed a drop in malaria incidents (per 1,000 persons per year) from 321 cases to 47 and malaria-related deaths reduced from 264 cases to 51 cases between the years 2018 to 2023.

The country now plans to put an end to malaria incidents and deaths by 2030, a goal that will be partly achieved by banking on the CHWs but also on behavioral change campaigns in best practices, and increasing access to preventives such as bed mosquito nets, and repellents for high risk persons-boarding school students, night shift employees- security and medical officers among others.

World Malaria Day 2024 will align with broader efforts to eradicate malaria globally. Dr. Charles Adekunle, CEO of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, emphasized the importance of leadership in the fight against malaria: “To end malaria, it starts with political commitment and leadership from the government, community, and individuals.”

Dr. Philip Welkhoff, Director of the Malaria Program at the Gates Foundation, recognized Rwanda’s innovative work: “The work happening in Rwanda is an example, an inspiration, and a teaching for all of us.”

The conference also paid tribute to deceased founders of the MIM society, such as Professor Ogobara Doumbo and Dr. Peter Deris, who contributed significantly to the fight against malaria.

Pictorial by KTP